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Tell Everybody I’m On My Way!

By Donte’ Little, Assistant Director, E. H. Gentry Facility

Rishi and Edith smile to camera while outside.“On My Way" is a song featured in Disney's 2003 animated film, Brother Bear, and performed by singer-songwriter, Phil Collins. This high-energy song encourages its listeners to have a positive outlook on venturing to new places, making friends, and enjoying life’s journey. Much like a postcard to family and friends, the chorus, “Tell everybody I’m on my way” serves as good news about the traveler’s adventures and successes. Although measurable outcomes are an important part of any organization, a more tangible measure of success is evident through real-life success stories of individuals served—like Rishi Doreswamy.

Originally from Madison, Alabama, Rishi graduated from Bob Jones High School. Profoundly deaf in both ears, Rishi uses a cochlear implant to navigate many of the challenges individuals with hearing differences face. But despite the challenges he has faced, Rishi has always been motivated to succeed. Although Rishi performed well academically, his family knew he needed additional preparation for the next chapter of his journey. So in August 2018, Rishi enrolled in the  E. H. Gentry Facility College Preparation-Dual Enrollment program.

The E. H. Gentry Facility College Preparation-Dual Enrollment program is designed to empower students with strategies to reach their personal, educational, and career goals as they transition into successful college graduates and enter the workforce. As a student in the program, Rishi continued to excel. He completed two semesters at Central Alabama Community College with a 3.667 grade point average before transferring to The University of North Alabama (UNA) in August 2019. Edith Kelley, EHG College Preparation-Dual Enrollment Transition Coordinator, stated, “We are very proud of Rishi and are really thankful that AIDB is here to help all of our students when they’ve needed it. We are glad that Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) will be there to serve other Alabamians in the future”.

Although Rishi has completed his tenure at E. H. Gentry Facility, he maintained his connections with AIDB. At AIDB’s inaugural DeaFest in September 2022 at AIDB North Campus in Decatur, Rishi and his family were elated to visit with friends and share an update on his journey. As of Fall 2022, Rishi had become an Honors College student at UNA, a Disability Student Support Peer Mentor, joined the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society for individuals with disabilities, completed internships with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Southern Nuclear Operating Company, and participated in the Alabama Governor's Youth Leadership Forum, and is on track to graduate as planned. Mr. and Mrs. Doreswamy, Rishi’s parents, went on to say, “We feel that AIDB has been a critical part of his success, especially in helping him to understand and address his academic needs, building his confidence as a college student and helping him gain life skills to succeed.”

The mission of E. H. Gentry Facility is to help students achieve economic and personal independence through employment training, college preparation classes, and independent living skills. Through the passionate work and dedication of the instructors and staff at E. H. Gentry Facility, Rishi Doreswamy is one of many EHG graduates who can proudly boast — ”Tell everybody, I’m on my way!”.